HARRISBURG – State Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson urged Pennsylvanians to observe National Influenza Vaccination Week, which runs Monday through Friday, by getting a flu shot.
“Flu season has already begun in Pennsylvania, so it is very important for at-risk individuals to be vaccinated now,” Dr. Johnson said. “Flu season usually peaks between January and March, so it is not too late to get your flu shot.”
Persons recommended to receive the influenza vaccine are:
–All children 6-59 months of age;
–People 50 years of age and older;
–Residents of long-term-care facilities;
–People with underlying health conditions such as heart, respiratory, metabolic and immune system problems;
–People with certain muscle or nerve disorders (such as cerebral palsy or seizure disorders) that can lead to breathing or swallowing problems;
–People with weakened immune systems such as: HIV/AIDS, long-term treatment of steroids and cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs;
–People 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment;
–Women who will be pregnant anytime during the influenza season;
–Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children 0-59 months of age;
–People over 50 years of age regardless of their medical history;
–Physicians, nurses, family members or anyone else in close contact with any of these groups at risk for influenza; and
–Anyone wishing to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill from influenza.
Johnson also encouraged health care providers to ensure that all employees are vaccinated against the flu. Recent studies have shown that unvaccinated healthcare workers have been linked to healthcare-associated transmission of influenza in many patient populations in a variety of clinical settings.
“Only around 40 percent of health care workers nationwide receive the influenza vaccine each year,” Johnson said. “National Influenza Vaccination Week is a good opportunity for health care facilities to encourage their staff to get vaccinated, so they can provide quality health care services for our citizens throughout the flu season.”
Every year, an estimated 36,000 people die from influenza-related illnesses and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. Rates of serious illness and death are highest among people older than 65 years of age and people of any age who have medical conditions that place them at increased risk for complications from influenza.
Along with the state Department of Health, National Influenza Vaccination Week is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Influenza Vaccine Summit and other partners.